Holiday in Cambodia

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Shortlisted for the Glenda Adams Award for New Writing in the 2014 NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Beyond the killing fields and the temples of Angkor is Cambodia: a country with a genocidal past and a wide, open smile. A frontier land where anything is possible – at least for the tourists.

In Holiday in Cambodia Laura Jean McKay explores the electric zone where local and foreign lives meet. There are tender, funny moments of tentative understanding, as well as devastating re-imaginings of a troubled history.

Three backpackers board a train, ignoring the danger signs – and find themselves in the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

Elderly sisters are visited by their vampire niece from Australia and set out to cure her.

A singer creates a sensation in swinging 1969, on the eve of an American bombing campaign.

These are bold and haunting stories by a remarkable new talent.

‘Each of these stories is like catching a snippet of a conversation or looking into a lit window in a dark night, and loitering longer than you should to hear and see what characters inadvertently reveal about themselves. Holiday in Cambodia shows the ugly side of post-colonial tourism as well as moments of great pathos and dignity; in a compelling and empathetic voice.’ – Alice Pung

‘Polished, Hemingwayesque snapshots, vivid and atmospheric’ - Steven Carroll

‘a serious and impressive attempt to engage with Cambodia in all its pock-marked history.’ - Sunday Age

‘Mckay’s artful balancing of strong themes with perceptive detail, even humour, allows Holiday in Cambodia to explore what many of its characters are only half-heartedly searching for: the real Cambodia, a country still trying to recover.’ - Australian Book Review

‘The range of perspectives offered across these stories works like word of mouth, building a picture of a country on trust.’ - the Australian

Laura Jean McKay’s writing has been published in The Best Australian Stories, Sleepers, the Big Issue, Women of Letters and Going Down Swinging. She has been shortlisted for national and international awards and in 2011 won the Alan Marshall Short Story Award. She lives in Melbourne.